Instituttseminar 11.november (utgått)–beyond–ottoman-half-lives–the-case-.html

The Departmental Seminar Series features Tone Bringa, Professor of Social Anthropology at the University of Bergen.Time and place: Nov. 11, 2020 2:15 PM–4:00 PM, Zoom

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The seminar will be held on Zoom. For meeting ID information contact


The early 20th century saw hundreds of thousands of Muslims migrating from the Balkans eastwards to Turkey and the (crumbling) Ottoman Empire. This massive movement of people has–contrary to the migration of people from or via Turkey into the Balkans and Western Europe–received surprisingly little attention among scholars and has only recently become a topic of research, mainly by historians. Some tens of thousands of these Balkan refugees were Slavic speaking Muslims who fled Bosnia-Herzegovina. They settled throughout Turkey in towns and villages, and for most their contact with the homeland was broken, although many remade lives they knew in Bosniak villages and neighbourhoods. However, under pressure from the homogenizing forces of the nation state, these “Ottoman half-lives” (Loizos, 1999) were slowly disappearing some 80 years later.

In this presentation, I explore the afterlife of displacement, and how a critical event, the war in Bosnia in the early 1990s, imbued this afterlife with new content and meaning, and how, since the war ended, Bosnia as a metonym for home is  changing from being part of individual lives and local communities to become entangled with larger nation state projects. I discuss how that war reset the relationship not only between the Bosniak Turks and their ancestors’ homeland but also their relationship with the Turkish state.

Based on my current research among Bosniaks in Turkey, this paper explores the changing relationship between historically shaped, passed down experience- based stories of flight, adaption and belonging and the new forms of institutionalized relations and ideas of kindredness between Turkey and Bosnia that have come into play in the 21st century.